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Skills for Healthy Eating


Teens who cook eat more fruits and vegetables

Healthful habits aren’t the only way to develop good eaters. Skills such as gardening have been shown to prime children to choose produce more often as adults. Other skills such as cooking, like that taught in high school home economics classes, have been highlighted in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior for their role in developing teens into adults who eat better and choose more fruits and vegetables.

This longitudinal study collected information, including surveys, height and weight from 1,158 adolescents enrolled in middle and senior high school in the Minneapolis-St Paul area. Researchers followed up with participants during young adulthood (18-23 years old), when cooking skills were evaluated via survey and later on as adults (30-35 years old) when food preparation and eating behavior were addressed.

Their findings suggest a long term health benefit when young adults feel they have the skills they need in the kitchen. For example, participants who reported they had adequate cooking skills in young adulthood were more likely to be involved in meal preparation, having more frequent family meals, more vegetable consumption and lower consumption of fast food at 30-35 years. That’s more than a decade later!

The importance of learning to cook and prepare foods at a young age is paramount. It’s not easy to prepare meals if ingredients and techniques are foreign. One of the best ways to gain confidence in the kitchen, at any age, is to give it a try! Today, afterschool programs, recreational cooking classes and home delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are more and more common, making it easier to learn how to cook, improving kitchen confidence and helping us to eat more healthfully.

For beginner cooks we recommend giving these easy recipes a try Banana Apple Crisp and Easy BBQ Kabobs.

Published August 1, 2018

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